Researchers from Australia have grown brain cells in a dish that can play the video game, Pong.
The team placed 800,000 live human brain cells (taken from stem cells) and mouse brain cells (derived from embryonic brains) in a dish, connected them with electrodes, and a simulation of the 1970s video fame, pong.
They called their system dishbrain. In their research, they claimed that it proves that neurons in a dish could learn and exhibit basic intelligence.
In a research that was released on Wednesday in the journal Neuron, the team describes the unique model as synthetic biological intelligence or SBI.
The scientists assert that SBI has the potential to eventually shed light on long-standing riddles of brain function and pave the way for improved neurological disease therapies. According to Hon Weng Chong, CEO of biotech startup Cortical Labs, “DishBrain offers an easier technique to evaluate how the brain functions and acquire insights into crippling illnesses such as epilepsy and dementia.”
Other experts describe the work as ”exciting” but say calling the brain cells “sentient” is going too far, reported BBC.
The mini-brain learned to play in five minutes. Despite frequently missing the ball, it had a success rate that was significantly higher than chance.
Dr. Kagan is hopeful that the technique will one day be utilized to test cures for neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s.
He further said, “Unlocking their essential function opens up so many more study areas that can be thoroughly investigated.”
In the future, Dr. Kagan plans to test how Alcohol could affect the mini-brains ability to play Pong.
Mini brains are more adaptable than AI systems?
The research shows that the mini-brain cells behave somewhat differently from how an AI-enabled computer might.
Though Al-based devices have already defeated grandmasters at chess.
But Prof Karl Friston, who is working with Dr. Kagan, says: “The mini-brain learned without it being taught and so is more adaptable and flexible.”
This implies that DishBrain naturally learned to play Pong out of an apparent tendency toward acting on its environment in ways that make it more predictable and less random. In other words, this system functions far more like a genuine brain than artificial intelligence.
As the research advances, the mini-brains are likely to become increasingly complicated, but the researcher’s team is working with bioethicists to ensure that they do not unintentionally develop a conscious brain,